Newgrange: From Darkness to Light, a favorite memory with my son

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At dawn on December 19th 2009, I stood with my then eleven year old son inside Newgrange, a 5,000 year old ancient temple in the Boyne valley, County Meath in Ireland, watching a streak of light creep steadily across the floor and illuminate the chamber. Newgrange is older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza.

I stood there, that cold December morning, holding a stranger’s hand and my son’s hand in the darkness, awaiting the moment of illumination, feeling at peace, hollowed out, empty, and light.

I realised that 5,000 years of ancestors did this same act of waiting for the winter solstice sun to arise and remind the world that the longer days were approaching. In the great scheme of this world and its existence, I was just a drop in the ocean of humanity, insignificant on my own, yet powerful when connected with others.

I wondered what it would be like if the entire world could experience this feeling of peace, being connected with their ancestors, holding hands in the dark, and waiting for the light to arrive? A conscientious global moment of quiet.

The dark is a scary place. We are filled with ignorance and fear about what lies directly in front of us. In the moments before the inner chamber dawn illumination, the artificial lighting was turned off; we were surrounded by a dense blackness. My son gripped my hand a little tighter, and my fingers grasped the tiny hand closer to me. Aren’t we all childlike in the darkness of ignorance?

Afraid of the things we don’t know, imagining the horrors that might be, we stood huddled close in the stone chamber waiting for sunrise. Then, as the beam of light stretched its way across the chamber floor, weightlessness, that hollowed out and empty feeling; not a feeling of empty as in devoid of hope, the complete opposite, I felt connected with everything and everyone around me.

I wanted to write this post for a long time, but shied away from it. Of all the lovely memories I have with my son, this is my favorite. I can’t even do it justice with the written word, but I tried.


10 thoughts on “Newgrange: From Darkness to Light, a favorite memory with my son

  1. When something touches you so deeply, it is terribly difficult to put those feelings into words. After all, feelings are intangibles, without shape, form, size or texture. YOurattempt was pretty good. I felt the feeling some, but nothing like you did, of course.

    • Thanks Patty. This is one of my very favorite memories with Sean. And the day I wrote this it made me sad to think of all the changes since those three short years ago. He is so much taller than me now, and in December 2009 I had to stoop down to have my face at the same level as his in a photograph! Time moves on, and that’s ok too. My father always said, “Time nor tide waits for no man.” Hey, what a great title for a New Year’s blog post? 🙂

  2. How did you get to be there? My dad used to bring us to Newgrange often as children, we climbed all over the carved stones long before they restored it to its former glory. I always loved being in the depths of those chambers, although I am normally quite claustrophobic. I have been in the pyramids at Giza recently too. Not as spellbinding. I think the air and the temperature in Newgrange was different. There was a feeling of pagan spirituality that I didn’t sense at Giza.

    I would love my dad to be able to see the winter solstice inside the chamber. It must be incredibly special… That connection with the people who built the place, thousands of years ago

    • It is done by lottery Barbara. I filled out 250 cards with my name, 50 with my huband’s name and 50 with my son’s name. I called the Newgrange visitor center the morning they picked the 50 winners, and my son’s card was the LAST one picked! I warned them both that seeing as I was the one who filled out 350 cards, if I didn’t get picked, they’d be taking me as a guest! There are 5 days in total to view the event, the 21st and the two days either side of it. Click on the Nrewgrange link in the post and then click on their lottery link. If you call they might send you a package of lottery cards to fill out and then send them back to them. Goodluck! And I couldn’t agree more btw, the connection with ancestors and feeling that you are a small part of a bigger picture was just beautiful. I really can’t do the feeling any justice with words. I had a similar exparience at the hill of Tara. Well worth a visit also. Happy Thanksgiving to you 🙂

  3. Great post! That’s a place I would love to see one day, at the solstice or any time… it’s also a place that fascinates Conor McPherson. He has mentioned it in connection with the supernatural qualities in his plays.

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